Cold comfort for the frozen few

WITH current weather conditions having similarities to winter in Siberia, some Ipswich Town players will be bearing up better than others.

Elvin King

WITH current weather conditions having similarities to winter in Siberia, some Ipswich Town players will be bearing up better than others. They are the ones who have at some stage since Roy Keane's arrival as manager been sent out into the cold. Most have fought their way back into the warmth of the first team scene as Evening Star football correspondent ELVIN KING reports.

JOE Royle used to frivolously call it the leper colony and all managers have them.

The former Ipswich Town manager was not alone in choosing to disregard players from his plans with other Portman Road bosses George Burley and Jim Magilton having their own agendas.

While a manager works on plans to gain victory in the next match a certain number of players find themselves out in the cold and training with reserve or even youth players.

Current Blues manager Roy Keane is therefore not the first - and he won't be the last - to lose faith - temporary or otherwise - in an Ipswich player's ability.

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Managers do this for differing reasons from downright disregard for the player as a performer and individual, to using certain tactics for a particular match.

Some do it to test the character of certain players, and Keane's methods this season can be allied to this.

The numbers who have burst back on the first team scene with all guns blazing are testament to this.

The following have all disappeared from the radar at different times this season with varying degrees of response.

Damien Delaney: Used as left back until the Newcastle United 4-0 home defeat on September 26 he then disappeared. During his absence regular winger Jaime Peters was even preferred at left back on occasions. Injuries to Gareth McAuley and Tommy Smith led to a rather forced recall at central defence on October 31, and since then the 28-year-old has been ever present and a revelation. Recovery rating: 9.

David Wright: Started four of the opening six games and was then off the radar until he regained his place on October 17 at home to Swansea. Has a 100 per cent record since having admitted that he spent a couple of weeks or so training with the youth team. Recovery rating: 9.

Owen Garvan: Became the forgotten man of Portman Road after being withdrawn at half-time in both starts he made up to the 2-0 defeat at West Brom on August 22. When Keane said after the Hawthorns game that one or two players were highly unlikely to play for him again it was Garvan who is believed to have been the main subject of his vitriol. Garvan turned down a loan move to Colchester before getting a surprise recall against Sheffield Wednesday on November 21. An ever present since. Recovery rating: 8.

Gareth McAuley: Lost the captaincy and then his place in the team for a couple of games with reports that he was available for transfer. Apart from injury he has been a regular since the end of September and playing as well as at any time in his career. Recovery rating: 7.

Jon Stead: Started three of the first five games, but then did not make another start until the Derby County victory on October 31. Has since scored four goals and began the last three matches. Recovery rating: 7.

Richard Wright: Left out when Asmir Begovic arrived on loan from Portsmouth, and not recalled until Pompey took the Bosnian international keeper back to Fratton Park before Ipswich's visit to Cardiff City on November 29. Made two outstanding saves before suffering a severe knee injury in the 22nd minute. Recovery rating: 6.

Pablo Counago: After recovering from a summer injury the Spaniard was a squad regular from August 22 to November 7. Then left out of the squad for two games amid stories of a training ground squabble with the manager. Blotted his copybook when later brought on at Bristol City to miss a great late chance to win the game. Not featured since. Recovery rating: 4.

Lee Martin: Started six of the first seven games. Then a regular in the squad until the 1-1 home draw with Watford when he was substituted at the interval. Missed the next three games completely before a surprise recall at home to Sheffield Wednesday. Taken off after 57 minutes and has not figured since although a heel problem has not helped his cause. Recovery rating: 3.

Colin Healy: Began four of the opening six games but has been an unused substitute just four times since. Could be on his way out of Portman Road when the transfer window opens. Recovery rating: 3.

Ben Thatcher: Suffered a severe knee injury against Norwich City last April, and apart from a pre-season friendly has not played since. Still training at Playford Road and has been affected by more knee problems, but appears to be completely out of Keane's thoughts because of his decision to continue to base his family in Epsom. Great club ambassador handing out Christmas gifts at Colchester Hospital this week. Recovery rating: 1.

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